random sample gallery / 407 48th Ave N. March 3, 2023 - March 27, 2023

Mauro Antonio Barreto

Random Sample is pleased to present How Soon Is Now? an exhibition of six, large-scale portraits of youth by Nashville-based artist Mauro Antonio Barreto. The pictures depict knowing, intimate encounters between two people, and are charged with yearning and desire, clouded by melancholia, angst, and anachronism, and contoured by melodrama and affect.

Our dim understanding of the circumstances portrayed—a breakup, a mending of a relationship, unrequited love—heightens the photographs’ sense of ambiguity. Have the emotions peaked, or is the drama still swelling? Dressed in vintage clothing, posed in nondescript settings, the figures are difficult to place in a specific era, as if they have stepped outside of time. Barreto uses photography’s lack of a before and after to create a sense of a perpetual now, a sustained note, and everlasting feeling.

The portraits show young people longing for their own youth, for its beauty, its idealism, and its messy, intense, and contradictory feelings. Barreto sees the mourning of youth’s passing and the practice of photography itself as twinned phenomena. Photographs stir emotions in us because they depict the loss of the present to the past. Similarly, youth is perceived most consciously, most achingly, once it has already begun to fade.